Running late again with the series, this year is whizzing by and I just want to grind it to a hault so bad and savour every day. So far, it has been my most accomplished year ever! Spoiler alert for further down this post, whoopsie. Autumn is definitely my favourite season, that comfortable sense of it being not too hot anymore, but yet it’s not terribly cold. So, here we go with Octobers Faves…
Not really a “product” as it seems I haven’t tried anything new this month. Boring much? BUT I did make quite a unique purchase at a pop-up wooden ornament market in the Market Place, Bolton where we live. It was like somebody knew me personally, carved this out of wood and spiritually led me to find it to purchase as if it was just meant to be! Look! It’s my online persona, “Ambitious Turtle,” beautifully hand sculpted by some extremely talented individual. I just had to have her as a reminder to always stay humourous in the face of injustice, exclusion and discrimination. The world can be a very difficult place if you are profoundly disabled and as my Mum often said, “the world wasn’t build for wheelchair users, but you can shape the world to make it better for them.” Which is exactly what my role is with MDUK’s Trailblazers. Although my ambitious streak can often seem risky, unrealistic and damn right crazy to an outsider looking in, having ambition in many of lifes avenues is what keeps me loving life and striving for my dreams. Ambitious turtle is a humourous play on words that sets the story straight that I am me, before my disability but in that I am content living with my progressive limitations, I do not live my life DESPITE of them. So there you go, if you ever wondered where the online persona even came from!
I treated myself to a handbag that for once wasn’t cheap as chips off eBay in my attempt to show myself a bit more self love! I’ve said this many a time in my blogs that since becoming a Mum, I find it almost selfish to spend any money on myself. I cannot justify treating myself to something I really like as I automatically think of something for the girls. Well I may have turned a corner finally in that this bag (at the time of purchase early Oct) was £35, the most I’d EVER spent on a bag. It ticked all the practicality boxes for me such as;
- I could open it one handed, dip my hand it and reclose it with the magnetic clasp without taking it off the armrest of my powerchairs – where my handbags reside.
- It was thin enough to not get snagged on supermarket aisle displays or on the doors boarding the bus (I’ve bust many a cheap handbag this way!)
- It was MUCH smaller than the “Mum handbag” style I’d been lugging around since Abbie was born 6 years ago, yet somehow still fit ALOT inside. I swear it’s like Mary Poppin’s bag this thing!
Being awarded ‘Campaigner of the Year 2018`
On 13th Oct I was invited to speak on a panel in my voluntary role with the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK on how to ‘Live the Life You Want’ at MDUK’s National Conference 2018 in London.
I has received an email some weeks before the conference inviting me for a ‘nominee’s breakfast’ at the hotel we were staying at, but I wasn’t aware I’d won an award until 2 days prior! I couldn’t believe it, this is the 1st award I’d ever won in my 30yrs and for it to be for recognition of my part in the fight for more Changing Places facilities across the UK made it all the more special.
The panel went very well and was well received by fellow Trailblazers and young people attending with a wide aray of Neuromuscular conditions. It was amazing to meet some online friends including the poet and disability blogger Jamie Hale, aswell as the fabulous motivational speaker and Palliative Care advocate Lucy Watts MBE and of course her assistance dog Molly (who by the way has her own Instagram if you care to follow her adventures!)
Being presented with the award by Muscular Dystrophy UK’s new President – British Presenter and former international gymnast; Gabby Logan and taking my eldest daughter Abbie (who accompanied me to the charity conference for the 1st time this year), coming on stage with me was the best feeling ever! By some coincidence they played “This is Me” by The Greatest Showman, a household favourite of mine and the girls that we even learnt Makaton signing to – made the experience even more special and very emotional. One day I know us Changing Places campaigners will look back at everything we did to promote more of these vital toilet facilities up and down the country and realise all the blood, sweat and tears of campaigning for such a sensitive and undignified subject was well worth it when, *touch wood* the bill passes through Parliament with flying colours and our dear friend Lorna Fillingham’s Changing Places Petition to make them MANDANTORY in all, new, large public buildings is seen as a human right, not just a “reasonable adjustment.”
The Power Of Friendships Made Through Campaigns
I’m blessed to campaign along side some pretty awesome and fierce characters that all play a huge part in picking each other up when we feel like we’re getting no-where, getting derailed by online trolls or by simply bringing some sunshine through friendship on what can be a very depressing (at times) thing to campaign about – yes I’m particularly refering to campaigning for accessible toilets. There’s only so much toilet talk one can take in such a hard fight for a basic human right. One of these awesome people is my friend Laura Ruthford aka “Brody’s Mummy” from the blog ‘Brody, Me & GDD,’ where she talks about lifes ups and downs with her sweet 6 year old boy Brody who has a very generic diagnosis of Global Developement Delay. Brody is a ray of sunshine and evidently inherited this from his Mum and don’t even get me started on his cheeky little sister Sydney. I strongly urge you to go follow Laura’s blog and socials which I’ll pop below.
Laura happens to have a fine hand for the latest trend of “rock painting,” and thought of the tear jerking idea of sending all her fellow Changing Places campaigners a rock to remind them of their worth when the going gets tough. Oh boy, did I shed a tear reading what she wrote on mine! “You’re a diamond dear, they can’t break you…” This came at such a needed time for me, after I exposed alot of personal details about my personal care for the sake of the campaign, which you can find in the piece I did with 2 other incredible disabled women on how we’re being forced to opt for medically unnecassary surgery of having surgical catheters fitted, purely due to lack of accessible toilets with hoists for safe transfers and adult changing benches to sort clothing. Thank you SO MUCH again Laura if you’re reading this. The rock you made I will truly treasure forever!
Taking the girls Trick or Treating
This year was the 1st time we took the girls ‘Trick or Treating.’ We were waiting for them to be at an age where they wouldn’t be afraid of going upto people’s houses and other children’s (and adults…) costumes. Abbie is 6 and Ava is 3 now so it went really well I feel, despite Ava completely missed going house to house as she fell asleep in the buggy, bless her… To be expected as Halloween fell on a nursery day and she NEVER naps at nursery so it was inevitable. We did have a bit of a wobble when we approached a house where the owners went all out for Halloween, there was a headless horseman next to the door, tombstones and zombies coming out of the lawn. Though it was the headless guy that really freaked Abbie out. We stood there for a good 10 mins trying to convince her it wasn’t real. In the end on the way home she decided to brave it and closed her eyes, made a run past Mr Headless to knock on the door. An older gentleman answered and was incredibly sweet to her, and even gave her some extra sweeties for being so brave. I was so proud she faced her fear. That’s my girl!